The very public debate
Used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle +/-weight loss
Do as much or as little to suit your lifestyle
Starting level of fitness
Needs self discipline
Can cause injury if precautions not implemented
Obviously Im pro-running. People tell me they don't run because they are 'sooo unfit'. When I started running during medical school I could barely run 100m without feeling my that legs were on fire.!
So if I can somehow end up doing a marathon you definitely can. The great thing about running is once you build a level of endurance but stop for what ever reason you still maintain some fitness. This is known as 'muscle memory'.
Following my usual style (obviously.!) the first step is deciding your goal.
Couch to 5k?
Run 30 mins?
Run 3 x a week?
There is many different ways to do it:
Apps that do couch to 5 km/ 30 mins.
Joining a running club (but most expect you to have a certain amount of fitness to join)
Devising your own plan e.g run 1 minute, walk two minutes and gradually increasing the run, reduce the walk duration and overall time
I did the 'winging it' option. I started on a treadmill without any planning or research. I think I actually managed 60 seconds the first time I did it. The stubborn part of me persisted I would set myself a little goal each day even if I was feeling rubbish/crap/tired.
However, I know I have a lot of self motivation/discipline. This may not be your style. If not, planning sessions with friends is a good way to get the 'external motivation/discipline'. Other frequently tell me they became faster because of their friends.! I should really do it more!
It is important to be realistic with yourself..! Don't set yourself a goal of waking up to run at 5 am 5 days a week, if you're frequently up during the night with your little babe, or if you're going to be doing 4, 13 hour shifts in a row..
Think about the days and time you can dedicate to achieving your goal. You will have to decide how important your goal is..
Will you prioritise it over watching strictly? or your night out with your friends?
Maintaining a balanced life style is important, but it is down to you to decide how important your goal is.
Strategy for the 'bad days'
Running is easy when you are feeling motivated/happy/fresh. What really matters is what do you do on an 'off day'.
On a bad day you may have to negotiate with your brain. For example you may tell yourself you'll do the run at a different time, or cut it shorter. You could give yourself a post work out treat (e.g sauna session.! or an extra hot soya mocha).
I usually negotiate myself, to at least start doing it. If I start running and I feel worse, despite trying I will stop the workout. In 3 years I have only ever abandoned a run/work out on 3 occasions (although at times shortened the run/weight lifting ).
A classic example is today. I'm doing a non-resident weekend oncall. I did a ward round which I finished at around 1pm.
I then did some editing on a manuscript and submitted it (hurrah.!). By the time I was finally free to workout, it was 4pm. I felt so tired despite having a day off yesterday, and sleeping 8 and a half hours last night. I ummed and ahhed about having another day off.
I decided that I would at least try running. Even if it is a short run, 'crap' run..you will never regret working out and 99% of the time you're happy you motivated yourself to do it. Even on the rare time, I actually cut it short I never beat myself up for trying.
Invest in a good pair of running trainers. Asics, saucony and nike are a few good brands but there are many more.
Get your running technique aka 'gait analysis' checked. Everyone has a different style of running depending on their legs (e.g. height, composition etc) and feet (flat footed vs high arch). Getting trainers with the right structure (e.g insoles for high arches and ankle support for those that 'pronate'), will help reduce problems such as 'shin splints' and reduce the chance of injuries. Any running trainer shop does this and you can usually just turn up and ask for it.
Trainers also should be changed every 6 months or 500 miles (for seasoned half/full marathoners). Whilst you may think the trainers are in good condition after 6 months, they lose the 'bounce'. When your foot strikes the ground, it will have greater impact on your body, increasing your chance of injury. I am obviously speaking from experience.. shin splints are the bane of any runners life.!
I don't spend too much on gear and just prefer to have a collection for outdoor (including water proofs) and treadmill (dreadmill running.!). Infact I get a lot of my running gear from primark and karrimor from sports direct. For 'top heavy' women make sure you invest in a good sports bra.
Some people 'chafe' when running. Whilst I never have (including during the marathon) I have read that Vaseline works.
It is very important to be safe when running especially when doing so outside.
Run in well lit areas
Use reflective/ bright gear
Tell people where you are running, estimated distance and time
Be aware when using headphones
Take care in busy pedestrian areas
Slow down when approaching junctions/ crossing roads. Use crossings where possible.
Take care during bad weather
Have sports drinks/running gels for any run that lasts more than 1 and a half hours. Your muscles/liver run out of energy stores if running for longer periods. This is quite an advanced topic needing further discussion, so I'll leave that to my 101 advanced running blog
Listen to your body. If your ankle is hurting have some time off
Run in quiet, isolated areas during the night/ early morning
Announce your exact route (especially if running at the same time each day).
Ignore your body if it is in pain/needs a rest
Push yourself excessively
Run across crossings without checking it is safe (easier said then done, I find it hard to slow down, check its safe and cross)
Forget strength training.! aim to this at least twice a week. It doesn't have to be in a gym, you can youtube ideas to do at home. Strength training is SO important for making your muscles, ligaments and joints stronger. This ensures you will run better, and reducing chances of injury
It is important to remember that habits take time to establish. Usually 6 weeks of dedication and persistence. Motivation usually ebbs between week 3 and 4. Knowing you will go through a rough patch, and that it will pass will make you stronger for riding through it.
Finally ENJOY the process.!!!!
"Running is 3 steps forward and two steps back"
My next running blog will include tips for the more experienced runners. This will focus on increasing speed, power, endurance and nutrition related to running.
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me for on instagram account for feedback.!